The West Virginia Supreme Court will hear arguments in a case to determine whether Gov. Jim Justice overstepped the boundary of state law with his involvement in the process to select candidates for him to choose from when appointing a new member of the West Virginia House of Delegates.
Justices will hear arguments from the Wayne County Republican Executive Committee in their case against Gov. Justice on Feb. 9, one day before the start of the 2021 West Virginia Legislative Session.
Earlier this week, Gov. Justice selected Joshua Booth, a Republican from Kenova in Wayne County, to represent House District 19.
Booth replaces former delegate Derrick Evans, who resigned from office on Jan. 9 after he was arrested and charged with two crimes — entering a restricted area and violent entry or disorderly conduct — for his role in the breach of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.
Evans, 34, posted, and later deleted, a video of himself on Facebook that depicted him as part of a large group of people entering the Capitol on Jan. 6 while Congress worked to certify the results of the 2020 presidential election.
When a vacancy occurs in the West Virginia House of Delegates, state law requires an executive committee from the district to convene and send a list of three candidates to the governor, and the governor can appoint a delegate from that list. Wayne County is the only county in House District 19.
The Wayne County Republican Executive Committee sent its list of candidates to Gov. Justice’s office on Jan. 13 with three names: Mark Ross, Chad Shaffer, and Jay Marcum, according to the petition the committee filed with the Supreme Court Monday.
Brian Abraham, Justice’s chief of staff, called Jeff Maynard, chairman of the Wayne County Republican Executive Committee, on Jan. 14 to tell him the governor wouldn’t select Ross, Shaffer, or Marcum because Acting Chairman of the West Virginia Republican Executive Committee Roman Stauffer had not been part of the process.
State law does not require the state chairman of any political party be part of the process to select candidates for an appointment to the House.
Stauffer worked as Gov. Justice’s campaign manager during his 2020 re-election campaign.
The county committee reconvened with Stauffer participating, and a second list was submitted to the governor last Friday.
That list included Ross and Shaffer but not Marcum. Marcum was replaced on the list by Booth.
Gov. Justice announced that he would appoint Booth to the House seat during his COVID-19 news conference Wednesday.
Delegates in the West Virginia House serve two-year terms. Since Evans resigned about five weeks into his term, Booth will serve basically an entire term in office by appointment.
In the committee’s petition, attorney John H. Bryan asks the court to force the governor to choose from the first list of candidates submitted, saying state law doesn’t give the governor discretion to reject the list provided by local party executive committees.
Bryan previously represented former delegate Evans during the days after Jan. 6, even releasing a statement on Evans’ behalf on Jan. 7.
The West Virginia Legislature is set to reconvene for its regular session on Feb. 10.